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A PREVIEW OF THE NFLPA NEWS CONFERENCE: STRIFE AND ALL

     "This is the state of the Players Association on the eve of
the union's showcase event:  discord and distrust," according to
William Rhoden in this morning's N.Y. TIMES in previewing NFLPA
Exec Dir Gene Upshaw's Super Bowl news conference today.  More
than one player "expressed anger yesterday over Upshaw's
leadership, from the collective bargaining agreement that granted
free agency but included a salary cap to Upshaw's own salary of
$900,000."  49er Player Rep Toi Cook defends Upshaw's salary:
"He needs to get what other people are getting.  The other people
are getting a million dollars."  But Cowboy Michael Irvin said:
"Not only did he let me down as a football player, he let me down
as a black man, making that poor business decision.  People will
look at this and say, 'That's why you can't put a black man as
head of anything.'"  If shows of unity and minimum player
salaries are any measure, the NFLPA is the "weakest of all" team
sports players' associations, according to Rhoden.  He notes the
start of the NFLPA licensing corporation, which NFL Properties
countered by offering to sign players to contracts.  "Instead of
signing with their own licensing entity, certain key players
signed with NFL Properties."  As for the report that former NFLPA
staffer John Walker misappropriated union funds and stole checks
that were payments from agents for union certification, some
players are upset with the union's handling of the situation.
49er WR Ed McCaffrey: "Something like this -- misappropriation of
funds, regardless of how much it is -- I think it's a pretty
significant blow to the relationship between players and the
union" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/26).
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